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Minority-built Cook Medical manufacturing facility opens on east side

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new medical manufacturing facility has opened in the heart of Indy’s east side.

The plant was an idea born from a push for social justice.

News 8 first reported on the partnership of Cook Medical and Goodwill nearly two years ago.

At Wednesday’s opening, Gov. Eric Holcomb said watching everything come together was like watching the stars align, showing the value in community investment. He said bringing in minority contractors and jobs is a model other companies can follow.

The Cook Medical manufacturing facility is the first step in seeing a community, used to noninvestment and job loss, get a bit of a leg-up.

After George Floyd’s murder by a police office in May 2020 in Minneapolis, Cook Medical joined other companies in evaluating ways to make a difference. As a business, Cook representatives say, investing in the community was a tangible action. So, in collaboration with Goodwill industries, they bought a plot of land near North Sheridan Avenue and 38th Street. Cook and Goodwill vowed to have 100% of contractors minority and women owned.

“We wanted to find an area that was filled with diversity,” said Kent Kramer of Goodwill. “We wanted to find an area that has seen job loss, an area that has not seen significant investment.”

The facility will have 100 positions, and they’ll be running the place. Juanita Easterling, the manager, said Wednesday, “I never thought I would be standing here today in front of all of you getting ready to open up a manufacturing plant in my grandparents’ backyard.”

Although Easterling moved away years ago, she’s back home. “It’s really important that I do my best because not only do I represent this facility, I represent my family.”

Organizers said they hope the facility provides a blueprint for others to soon follow.